Only your best friend might tell you!
publiziert: Mittwoch, 12. Jan 2011 / 08:43 Uhr / aktualisiert: Mittwoch, 12. Jan 2011 / 09:14 Uhr
Will the ice hold? Unfounded believes can even kill you.
Will the ice hold? Unfounded believes can even kill you.

When I was in my late twenties, a very good friend of mine changed a belief about myself.

Weiterführende Links zur Meldung:

Cringefactor
Find out what your friends REALLY think about you and
cringefactor.com

Bill Liaos Reforestation Project
Saving the climate by reforestation.
weforest.com

I used to be a really over the top geek about technology and thus I believed, that if you wanted to be interesting, you should regurgitate as many facts as possible, preferably without a break. A habit that often saw me as about as interesting to talk to as dry dish rag. My friend did not win my immediate love and respect by telling me that I was boring her but she did thankfully get the message through that the number one way of being interesting to people is in fact to be interested in them. In other words listening is damn charismatic.

As a result of my friends intervention, I have become a really good listener and I am very grateful to her for setting me on the right path, by challenging such a deeply held belief which, by the way, is held by many people. I have often seen mavens and geeks talking the ear off of some poor victim about some dry technical detail, all the while being blissfully ignorant of the devastatingly soporific effect they are having.

Here is a significant problem: when our beliefs are wrong, it is almost impossible for us to see the flaw of said beliefs because, simply put, we believe them! It is remarkable, how often we believe something to be so accurate, that we completely take those beliefs for granted sometimes to the point that we don't even notice, that our actions are based on an unfounded belief.

Innumerable people have died because they believed in something that simply wasn't true such as perhaps the thickness of a particular patch of ice over a deep cold lake, or maybe they believed themselves to be the best drivers in the world, able to drag race down a crowded expressway.

Yet most of our failures in what we believe are not life threatening, they just get in our way and stop us being as powerful as possible. As with my flawed view of the merits of technical knowledge, they prevent us from being the best we can be. Yet how do we see the flaws in what we believe? Especially if we cannot easily see even the beliefs themselves from our own perspective?

The good news is that while it is relatively tough to spot where your own beliefs are misguided it is pretty easy to see when someone else is getting in their own way. The only issue there is, that its often hard to get up the gumption to tell them (Even if you are their best friend), because you are unsure how they might react.

I can say from experience, that it's better to gently let someone know they have spinach in their teeth rather than have them go on all day believing, that they have a pearly white smile. Similarly if someone you care about is making a fool of themselves, because they believe they look good in skintight lycra bicycle shorts, or because they think the way to a womans heart is through a litany of technical facts. If you know such people, help them out by gently challenging their beliefs.

What can you do though, if you want to check yourself? Well some months ago, I was invited to be part of something I think is rather clever. Its a website, where instead of filling out a questionnaire yourself, to see how you might be doing you get your friends to anonymously answer a questionnaire on your behalf.

They just launched and the first quiz is only three questions so if you want to find to how good you are really when it comes to the social side of things give it a try. www.cringefactor.com

Next week, I will be starting an epic journey across the world to Speak for three minutes at the TED.com conference and the thing that makes the journey epic is, that of course, I do not fly anymore, so I will be traveling by cargo ship and train. I will be updating my progress by Satellite and you will be able to follow along on Twitter @liaonet Wish me luck!



«Forest trees host airborne bacteria that help coalesce sunlight reflecting low level clouds.»
- Walter Jehne

(by Bill Liao/news.ch)

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